Bob’s Burgers: Review & Interview

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Bob’s Burgers
is an American animated comedy created by the talented Loren Bouchard, which has been running for five glorious years under the FOX Broadcasting Company. If you’ve never seen Bob’s Burgers, you’re in for a treat and I urge you to go watch an episode immediately. While the basic concept behind the show is all too reminiscent of The Simpsons and Family Guy, involving the adventures of a working class nuclear family, Bob’s Burgers is a step ahead of the rest. The show  provides the satirical edge shows like these forgot to continue beyond their earlier seasons. The comedy series is wrought with wit, charm and sass, making it a clear successor, resisting predictable jokes hinged on vulgarity or outlandish possibilities. The humour is quirky and original and the fast pace will have you missing clever jokes and puns if you’re not attentive enough.

The show focuses on the antics of the Belcher family who barely make a buck in profit running their hamburger restaurant. Unlike other shows where comedic archetypes are haphazardly thrown together to produce something loosely funny for the audience, Bob’s Burgers’ characters feel like they actually have chemistry and belong together. Even when Bob’s seriousness is so heavily juxtaposed with the personality traits of other members of his family, there still remains an enormous element of support and camaraderie.

The main protagonist Bob, voiced by Archer’s H. Jon Benjamin, is both a talented and earnest burger artist and terrible businessman with a competitive streak. Linda, Bob’s wife, is a flamboyant and nurturing mother whose love for the performing arts borders on excessive. Voiced by John Roberts, her supportive and enthusiastic nature is endearing and she is perhaps the most underestimated of characters. Louise, the youngest daughter voiced by comedian Kristen Schaal, is impressively dramatic and feeds off the trauma, humiliation and manipulation of others. Gene, the middle child, reminds me of that stereotypical childhood friend that picked his nose and ate dirt. Voiced by Eugene Mirman, Gene is an uncomplicated child, desperate to disturb the peace with his portable keyboard and fart sound effects. The oldest of the Belcher children, Tina, is voiced by Dan Mitz. Tina is a socially awkward teenager whose love of writing erotic friend fiction and obsession with butts is both loveable and slightly unsettling.

The writing for Bob’s Burgers is exceptional. The large team of writers include Wendy Molyneux, who co-writes with her sister Lizzie. This year I had the unique opportunity to discuss Bob’s Burgers and writing with Wendy whose sharp and quick wit is reflected in the most loveable antics of Bob’s Burgers. Here’s what she had to say:

ET: How did you become such a successful writer? Was it through study, experience, low-paid internships or something else entirely? Did you always want to be a writer? If you could walk me through your journey that would be great!

WENDY: When I got out of college I had a series of very terrible and low-paying jobs because I had no idea how to be a successful human alive on the Earth, much less a writer. And then along came the internet, and with it online humor sites willing to read submissions from unknown writers. I started out by writing for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and after a few years, got representation and started actually working a little in the business. When I teamed up with my sister, Lizzie, things really started to take off and we wound up getting a job on Bob’s Burgers where we’ve been ever since!

ET: As a sister team, do you tend to have creative differences between the two of you? If so, how do you settle these?

WENDY: We don’t really disagree. We agree a sickening amount.

ET: What memorable experiences have you had while working together?

WENDY: We sometimes experience some fun condescension, such as when a producer told us that ‘maybe someday we could work in television like that Amy Poleman,’ even though we already had jobs in television. Also, one time we saw Tom Cruise at the Soho House and stared at him pretty heavily. But honestly, and I’m not bullshitting, working on Bob’s Burgers is fun every single day. I think maybe this response did not go with your question, but hey, here we are.

ET: You’re writing and exec producing 20th Century Fox and Imagine TV’s comedy The Brainy Bunch – can you tell me about it? Any tidbits you can give away?

WENDY: Oh friend, that pilot is already dead. Welcome to Hollywood!

ET: ‘All the great artists get censored!’ Linda Belcher has said. Does censorship interfere with your creative process (given that Bob’s Burgers is rated PG)?

WENDY: Not really! The only thing I can remember is that we had to change ‘dildos’ to ‘vibrators’ when Tina said ‘If you think about it, any box could have vibrators in it.’ Oh, and in Art Crawl, we got a note to reduce the size of a mouse anus. But I’m sure everyone gets that note.

Wendy voices Jen the babysitter.
Wendy voices Jen the babysitter.

ET: Who is your favourite character on Bob’s Burgers and why?

WENDY: I love them all. Don’t make me choose! Of our side, Gayle has a special place in my heart because she first appeared in one of our episodes and she’s played by Molyneux friend and wonderful actress Megan Mullally. But I love everybody! Everyone!

ET: They say everyone has a vice – what’s yours and does it help or hinder your writing?

WENDY: My only real vice is coffee, and it helps. It’s the only thing that helps!

ET: What would you consider to be one of your key virtues?

WENDY: The ability to accept that sometimes you have to say vibrators when you want to say dildos.

ET: How does it feel to play such an integral role in Bob’s Burgers?

WENDY: I won’t lie, it feels great to work on this show. The people involved that we get to work with every day are just as funny and kind as you’d think.

ET: I’ve heard on the grapevine that you’re quite the animal lover. What kind of animals would you home if practicality (and safety) weren’t an issue?

WENDY: Oh, I’d get a monkey. It would probably kill me, but what a way to go!

ET: What do you do in your down time?

WENDY: Spend time with my kid and husband and watch TV. I am very boring!

ET: What is the best advice you could give an aspiring student writer?

WENDY: Ugh, it’s so boring, but the only advice is just to write a ton. And then write some more. Then do some writing. Then write more. Do this until you are reasonably good at writing, then continue writing.

ET: Finish this sentence: when in doubt….

WENDY: Ask yourself, ‘What would Amy Poleman do?’

Earlier this year, FOX announced the television series would produce a sixth season, set to have an exciting and eclectic mix of guest stars. These include Boardwalk Empire’s Steve Buscemi, comedian and actress Wanda Sykes, Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie, Jemaine Clement and Rhys Darby, as well as Paul Rudd who is rumoured to be Tina’s imaginary horse friend.

Keep an ear out for Wendy’s guest appearances as she voices Jen the babysitter, as well as Dr. Yap’s hygienist.

Words by Jess Nicole